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May add more international experts to Lanka war crimes probe: Mahinda Rajapaksa

Tuesday, 5 August 2014 - 5:56pm IST | Place: COLOMBO | Agency: PTI

Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Tuesday said he may add three more international experts to an existing three-member panel probing the cases of missing persons during the three-decade war with the  Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Last month, Rajapaksa had named a three-member international advisory panel comprising Sir Desmond de Silva, Sir Geoffrey Nice and Professor David Crane to advice the disappearances commission headed by the former Sri Lankan judge Maxwell Paranagama.

The members of the panel Desmonde Silva and Nice are from Britain while David Crane is a US national.

Rajapaksa told reporters he may add another three advisers to make it six international experts.

However, there have been some opposition from within his ruling coalition over the appointment of international experts.

Rajapaksa's nationalist allies, JHU and NFF have expressed strong opposition to the move. They have called it akin to "blindly walking into an international trap." "They will be there to advise not to investigate," the Lankan president said referring to the opposition.

He said the three international experts were appointed atthe request of the Presidential Commission, which was set up in August 2013 and mandated to probe disappearances of persons between 1990 to May 2009 when the war with LTTE ended.

Sri Lanka faces an international probe over allegations that government forces killed about 40,000 Tamil civilians in the final months of fighting, a charge refuted by Colombo. The panel has so far entertained nearly 19,000 complaints of disappearances.

The nationalists warn that the three experts had served in various international war crimes tribunals from Sierra Leone to former Yugoslavia and their findings would spell trouble for the government troops.

Alongside the appointment of the experts, the mandate ofthe disappearances commission was also expanded to include ifany person, group or institution had been responsible for any violations of international humanitarian law or international human rights law.

The UNHRC in late March had mandated the appointment of an international investigation team to probe Sri Lanka's rights accountability.

The move was publicly opposed by Sri Lanka claiming it was impeding its sovereignty and vowed non-cooperation to the work of the UN investigation. 

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